Installation of free smart chargers gets underway for electric vehicle owners

Electric vehicle owners are starting to have free smart chargers installed, instead of the standard home charger, as a result of their participation in the Electric Nation project.

The smart charger will be installed in participants’ homes and they will be able to use their electric vehicle as normal. The charger, combined with a secure communications unit, sends data about charging habits such as when the car is being charged, which rate, and how much energy was used. For some participants some information will be retrieved from the electric vehicle itself, such as length of journeys and battery charge state.

Part of the trial will involve the simulation of network events which will require charging to be paused, but participants will be able to provide preference information so that their car is charged when they need it.

The reason behind the scheme is the rise of sales of electric vehicles in the UK, with larger batteries and faster charging times. The UK electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles, however if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and they’re all charged at peak times, then some local electricity networks may need reinforcing.

Electric Nation’s smart charging solution could interact between domestic charge points and local electricity networks to allow the numbers of electric vehicles in the UK to increase, whilst avoiding the cost and disruption involved in upgrading local electricity infrastructure. The findings of the trial will help electricity network operators manage the effect of the additional load on local networks caused by charging EVs.

One of the first Electric Nation participants, Clive Harding, who lives near Worcester, has now had a smart charger installed for his Nissan LEAF. He joined Electric Nation as he was interested in the technology behind the project. Clive says: “I now have a smart charger fitted that is faster than a standard charger, and every time I charge my car the data will help to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the predicted increase in the number of electric vehicles.

Electric Nation First Smart Charger

Image: Clive Harding with his Nissan LEAF and new Electric Nation smart charger.

The project is seeking to recruit 500-700 people buying or leasing new electric vehicles (of all makes and models, pure electric and plug-in hybrids) to take part in the largest trial of its kind. Trial participants will get a free* smart charger installed.

Mark Dale, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer, Western Power Distribution, adds: “Historically the automotive sector and the energy sector have not worked together. However that needs to change due to the increased demand on local electricity networks from electric vehicles. The Electric Nation project shows that Western Power Distribution is taking the issue of the impact of EVs on electricity networks seriously, by trialling a solution to potential capacity challenges in the form of smart charging and demand control.

Motorists buying or leasing a new electric vehicle are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community. Initially the trial will take place in the WPD network areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales. The trial is subject to eligibility.

To be eligible to participate in the Electric Nation trial applicants will need to:

  • Have on order, or already be using, a suitable EV available for use during the trial. All current EVs that are eligible for the OLEV plug-in car grant (pure electric and plug-in hybrids) are eligible. View the range of vehicles available here (see bottom of page)
  • Be eligible for any available OLEV Home Charge Scheme Grant*
  • Live in the Western Power Distribution (WPD) licence areas. To check if you live in the Western Power Distribution licence areas please check your postcode here
  • Understand the trial and agree to the terms and conditions
  • Have home broadband installed for the duration of the trial
  • Have off-street parking

* If home charge scheme grant is NOT available customers can still participate, however additional costs will be incurred.

For more information and to check eligibility visit

Twitter @electricnation_

Electric Nation is a Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Network Innovation Allowance funded project. WPD’s collaboration partners in the project are EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL.

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